HIGHLIGHTS AND MEMORIES AS DESCRIBED BY:
CARL H. CURRY
|My home was broken up by the separation and subsequent
divorce of my parents in Oklahoma City in 1920.
I was six years of age. My sisters, Imogene and Clara were teenagers living at home.
My mother took a job in a garment factory (overalls) in order to support us.
In 1924 we moved to Kansas City. As I grew up I lived with my brother, sisters, and other relatives for periods of a few months - summer school vacations (3 mos) or for the school year (9 mos).
As much as with anyone, I lived with "Grandpa and Grandma Henry" and Uncle Noah. Grandma was very kind and loving - a typical housewife-mother of the old school. She was a marvelous gardener and kept me busy. Grandpa was something special - retired at the time. He spent a good deal of time at the Oklahoma City produce market on California Street, where he visited with his former neighbors of the farm days. He had a keen mind and a biting sense of humor.
He and I, in my pre-teen years, used to play cards (7 up) for hours. He exerted tremendous influence on the growth and development of my mother.
Elijah Lafayette Henry was a true pioneer in the finest sense. An '89-er' who planted and raised a fine family in the embryonic state of Oklahoma. I'm sure the man had his share of faults. I am unaware of them since no one ever told me about them. I am fully aware of his many virtues, not the least of which was great kindness for a skinny, frightened kid from a broken home. He claimed direct line-descent from Patrick Henry.
In 1924, after Imogene graduated from high school, (my mother) Zora took a job with Cowden Company - overalls - and moved into an apartment on the west side of Kansas City (10th and Penn). Imogene went to work for Cowden and Clara became a hair dresser at the beauty shop in Harzfelds Department store. Over the next four or five years we lived in several low-cost apartments on Quality Hill, as the area was called. She felt that this environment was not the best for a growing boy (I was 10 when we moved to Kansas City in 1924), so she would send me to live with various relatives in Oklahoma City.
In 1929, she was in rather poor health and she returned to Oklahoma City to seek less demanding work. She moved in with Daisy (her daughter) and her family.
At Christmas time I moved to Altus, Oklahoma to live with my brother's family. Zora continued to live with Daisy and worked as a seamstress when work was available. Her brother Noah had sold the Oklahoma City property and purchased a farm northeast of Harrison, Arkansas.
After Elijah died ( May 28, 1930 ) Ellen moved to Arkansas to live with Noah.
In 1931, with the onset of the 'Great Depression', my brother traded his home in Altus, Oklahoma for a 120 acre mountainside farm in Boone County, Arkansas , about five miles west of Harrison.
During the transition period, my mother Zora and her mother Ellen moved onto the farm.
At age 17, I was the man of the house for the first year, until my brother's family took up residence on a farm south of Joplin, Missouri. Zora moved to Missouri. She remained on the farm until 1946 when she went back to Oklahoma City to live with Daisy.
In early 1948 she returned to the Joplin area and divided her time between the farm and my home in Joplin.
In 1952 she moved to Carmel, California to be with Daisy. She remained there until her death in 1957. She helped Daisy maintain a home and raise a couple of boys. She also spent long hours beach-combing, writing poetry and carving drift-wood sculpture. My niece Elliene recalled her as "the most beautiful Hippie of them all" - ten years ahead of her time.
RECOLLECTIONS AND COMMENTS ABOUT MY FAMILY
Alice's daughter Elliene was born when I was only four years old. Alice divorced her first husband shortly thereafter. In my preteen years I lived with Alice and her second husband for a short period or two. Also, both Elliene and I lived with Grandma and Grandpa at times. So, Elliene was almost a sister to me at that time.
Alice died in a fire at an Okalahoma City nightclub that she owned in 1948.
Elbert married Sarah Celestine (Aunt Teen) Wilson in Oklahoma City in 1922. Following the birth of their first two children (girls) the family moved to Altus, Oklahoma (probably 1926). I had very little contact with E.G. (Elbert George) until I was 15 years of age.
At the start of 1929, Elbert came to Oklahoma City and took me to live with them in Altus. Ross was 14 months old and Don was to be born in April. I stayed with them for a little more than two years, during which I got my first job, joined the Oklahoma National Guard and completed the 11th grade at the local high school.
With the 'Great Depression' in full swing, Elbert traded his Altus home for the Arkansas farm (120 acres) as mentioned elsewhere.
David, Jim and Tommy (who died at 18 months) were born in Arkansas.
In 1937 Elbert took a job in Joplin, Missouri and subsequently bought a 40 acre farm near Hornet, where Brian was born.
Elbert and Celestine were killed in a head-on collision at the highway exit to their farm in April, 1964.
Daisy was among the first crew of telephone operators in Oklahoma City. She married Sid Johnson (1925) and they had one child, Bob, born November 1928. By 1932 Sid had become involved in criminal activity (two years Oklahoma Prison - Felony Theft).
Daisy left Bob with mother (Zora) and went to New York City to live with Johnny Innuse, a piano and accordion player whom she met in St. Louis when he was on tour with Earl Carroll's Vanities. He was Catholic and could not get a divorce. They assumed the name of Mason, and had two sons named Johnny and Joe.
In the mid '40's, Daisy returned to Oklahoma City, where she operated a restaurant-tavern (see link above) until Alice's death in 1948.
At that time, she moved to Carmel, California (Imogene was there living already in Bakersfield, California) where she remained until her death in 1970 - Monterey, CA.
Mother (Zora) left Joplin in 1952 and lived with Daisy
until her death. Mar. 5 1959 - Santa Clara, California
Imogene was the only one in the family that graduated from high school (1924). She accompanied me when we moved to Kansas City in July following her graduation. We moved into an apartment (Mother, Imy, Clara and I) and Imogene went to work with mother at Cowden's Overall Factory. Later she married a trumpet player named Emmet Mansell. They never had any children. I lived with them during the summer of 1928. (NOTE: They are together on the 1930 census in Kansas City, Jackson, MO)
In 1930 she divorced her first husband and moved to St. Louis where Alice was living with her second husband. During that period Imogene and Elliene formed a very close relationship that lasted the rest of their lives. Shortly afterward Imogene married a barber named Ernest Daniel. They moved to a farm near the family farm close to Harrison, Arkansas., then to a farm near Texarkana.
Finally they returned to Oklahoma City and were divorced prior to World War II. After that she moved to the West Coast where she met and married Orval Kamm. After the war they operated a filling station in Bakersfield, California until her death in 1973.
During the last half of her life she and Elliene had developed an almost mother-daughter relationship. Elliene lived with Imogene until she too married and settled in Carson City, Nevada.
Clara lived a rather spectacular 40 years. She was only 16 when we moved to Kansas City in 1924. She managed to convince people she was old enough and qualified for her Beauty Operator's License. She took a job at the beauty shop in Harzfeld's Department Store, where she soon acquired a very wealthy clientele. Also, while she was working at Harzfelds, she met and married a male hair dresser by the name of Maurice Leon Luce (she said he was French). both of them started taking flying lessons (1926).
Clara once told me she was the first woman in Missouri to be granted a pilot's license. In 1928, she and Maurice took jobs with Pan American Airways and traveled down through Central America pioneering and helping to establish airports for the first commercial airline, in such places as Nicaragua, Havana, Panama and Honduras. After this they went to Miami, Florida where they split up.
Clara became a model and posed for a good deal of the sculpture on the Presidential Palace in Havana, Cuba. She also modeled for McClelland Barclay, a prominent painter who did covers and illustrations for several of the major (slick) magazines. Barclay arranged for the Vanities.
She became a cast member of Carroll's Vanities in New York City after they played for a year, then went on a nation tour to the West Coast. The show would play up to two weeks in the larger cities and shorter engagements, depending on the size of the town. (Joplin - 1 night). The cast she was with included Jack Benny who was the M.C. (Master of Ceremonies) and other notable performers like Happy and Betty Stockwell (Parents of Dean Stockwell) While they were in Los Angeles, Clara met the Marx Brothers, William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy) and many others. She had a screen test there.
Later she returned to New York City where she continued in show business. When the show played St. Louis, Mother (Zora), Daisy, and I went to see the show and Daisy fell in love with one of the musicians (John Innuse).
During the late 30's and the WWII years that followed, I almost lost complete contact with Clara. In 1948 she took too many sleeping pills and died.
I hope this collection of related information will be of interest to future generations. The biggest problem of course, has been to find appropriate stopping places. As I write this, it is April, 1984 and the last remaining member of my family died 11 years ago.
I'll close with a line from Longfellow:
-"And if I should live to be the last leaf on